A Study of Accessibility Requirements for Media Players on the Web

A Study of Accessibility Requirements for Media Players on the Web
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  (draft version) A study of accessibility requirements for media players on the Web Lourdes Moreno 1 , María Gonzalez 1 , Paloma Martínez 1  and Ana Iglesias 1   1  LaBDA Group, Computer Science Department, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Avda. Universidad 30, 28911 Leganés, Madrid, Spain {lmoreno, mgonza1, pmf, aiglesia} Abstract.  Multimedia content covers the Web, and we should provide access to all people. For this reason, we must consider including accessibility requirements in a synchronized manner with the alternative resources such as caption and audio description among others. In addition, it is very important to take into account accessibility requirements in the player to avoid barriers and to ensure access to this multimedia content as well as their resources. This  paper presents an overall study on standards and players with accessibility requirements. Moreover, solutions to improve the accessibility features in the YouTube player are presented. Based on this study, we have distinguished a set of guidelines to take into account for including accessibility requirements in  players. Furthermore, we suggest an agile evaluation process which indicates the order of accessibility guidelines to check. Finally, the proposed evaluation method is put into practice with a case study: accessibility features are evaluated in three widely used players. Keywords: Web accessibility, user agent, media players, standard, evaluation, accessibility requirement.   1 Introduction Multimedia content, such as video and audio, has long filled the Web and will likely continue to do so well into the future. Multimedia content must be accessible for  people with disabilities according to standards like the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) [1] of Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) [2]. In order to achieve multimedia content accessibility to a greater or lesser degree, synchronized alternatives such as captions, audio descriptions and transcriptions need to be  provided. Additionally, the accessibility of multimedia content on the Web requires that a particular chain of essential, interdependent, and accessible components [3] should be taken into account for user agents. Specifically, media players should allow to play deliver accessible multimedia content and therefore a positive user-video interaction would success. While accessibility problems may sometimes occur within Web content itself, other times they can be traced to the browser, assistive technologies (software used by  people with disabilities to aid in their interaction with computers) or even a user’s inability to handle a particular tool. This latter point is particularly troubling, since it is of no practical use to include an accessible video with audio description if a blind  user, in the end, cannot access this audio alternative due to accessibility barriers within the media player itself. Therefore, media players should be developed according to the User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) [4] of WAI and Universal Design criteria. Furthermore, it is imperative that Web designers are familiar with the UAAG as well as the existing media players capable of the accessible delivery of multimedia content. 2 Background The User Agent Accessibility Guidelines (UAAG) explain how to make user agents  –   including Web browsers, media players, and assistive technologies  –   accessible for  people with disabilities, and particularly, how to increase the accessibility of Web content. In general, media players must ensure that all audio and video controls are accessible to the keyboard alone and can be accessed by a user using a screen reader. While among the two versions of the UAAG currently available, the earlier UAAG 1.0 (approved in 2002) is considered the version of reference, UAAG 2.0 is currently  being developed to help make a new generation of user agents functionally accessible, to provide a gate to alternative information based on user technologies and to align itself with WCAG 2.0 (W3C Recommendation). Following the Guideline 1.2 of WCAG 2.0 ( “  provide alternatives for time-based media ” ) [1], the media content must be accompanied by media alternatives as caption (or subtitles for deaf people), audio description, sign language, etc. in synchronized media. The ATAG includes guidelines to ensure that the players provide support for these media alternatives. User agents like players may get conformance to UAAG 2.0 at one of three conformance levels. The level achieved depends on the level of the success criteria that have been satisfied. The conformance levels are: "A" (the player satisfies all of the Level “A”  success criteria), "AA" or "Double-A" (it satisfies all of the Level “A”  and Level “AA”  success criteria) or "AAA" or "Triple-A" (it satisfies all of the success criteria). Current media players have, to a greater or lesser extent, accessibility features conforming to the UAAG. These players are embedded in a web page or through a standalone player. Embedding the player in a web page allows the user to access the content without another application opening as many Flash players, but the standalone  players usually have more control options. In general, the standalone versions of the media players are far more accessible than the embedded versions [5]. Several media formats present caption capabilities. The most famous ones are RealPlayer  1 , Windows Media Player  2 , QuickTime 3  and iTunes 4 . iTunes and the videos that it gets synced with iPod-family devices are capable of displaying subtitles with the ability to have elegant closed-captions (captions that can be displayed or not, depending on user preference) [6]. 1 RealPlayer,  2Windows Media Player, 3 QuickTime   4 iTuunes   In relation to audio description, it is recommended for video players to have an audio description track that runs the length of the video. Then, the player may allow audio description controls for the user. Most of the videos online are delivered via Adobe Flash-based in-page video  players 5 . Flash has an excellent compression system that can deliver high-fidelity audio and high-resolution video without taxing bandwidth. In addition, Flash is installed in most browsers [6]. Due to this fact, this latter group of Flash media  players has long been used on the Web, as YouTube Video Player  6 . Although the YouTube Video Player provides subtitles, it presents accessibility problems as it will show in section four. The HTML5 [7] offers web accessibility in the accessible embedded media player a huge step forward. Basically, the new standard provides the latest commands, such as <video> and <audio>, which can create and label some buttons in a way that allows keyboard shortcuts to access them, and screen readers to tell the user which  buttons are available. However, HTML5 elements which provide support for the some UAAG guidelines and for the inclusion of caption and audiodescription have not been included in the new standard still under development. A literature survey has covered a few studies describing the levels of accessibility and compliance of media players with the UAAG [8]. The application of the UAAG using the checklist for WAI-UAAG documentation [9] has been observed to be quite difficult for some developers and evaluators. That is why this paper proposes an agile evaluation process for checking accessibility features in media web players. 3 Accessibility Evaluation Method for media players A study of accessibility requirements for media players based on the relevant sections of UAAG 2.0 (Working Draft 17 June 2010) [4] has been carried out. First, the UAAG 2.0 guidelines related to media players were selected (section 3.1). Next, an agile method for evaluating the accessibility requirements of media players is  proposed based on WAI documentation (section 3.2). 3.1 Guidelines subset of UAAG for media players In this study, the first step was to distinguish which guidelines from UAAG are specifically related to media players (others are related to other user agents as  browsers, etc.). Table 1 indicates the number of guidelines for media players taken into account grouped by conformance levels of UAAG. Table 2 detail the selected guidelines of UAAG (third column). 5 Flash Player penetration. Flash content reaches 99% of Internet viewers, ADOBE, December 2010 6 Youtube’s web site:, testing October 2010  Table 1 Number of guidelines by conformance levels of UAAG for media players. Level “A”  Level “AA”  Level “AAA”  Undetermined in Working Draft UAAG 2.0 76 29 14 6 Selection guidelines for media players 36 20 9 4 3.2 Agile Evaluation Method In the second step, the guidelines subset was grouped according to accessibility issues to take into account in media players. Our proposal has differentiated fourteen groups as it is shown in Table 2. We propose to follow the order fixed in Table 2 for an agile evaluation process. Table 2. Agile evaluation method for checking accessibility in media players. Group Accessibility issue Guidelines (G)and Success Criteria (sc) G1 Alternative content G: 3.1 G2 Highlighting sc: 3.5.1 G3 Text configuration and alternative views sc: 3.6.1 3.12.2, 3.12.3 G4 Volume configuration G: 3.7 G5 Synthesized speech configuration G: 3.8 G6 Viewports sc: 3.10.4 G7 Focus sc: 3.11.3, 3.11.4, 3.11.6, 3.11.7, 3.11.8, 3.11.10, 3.11.11 sc: 5.4.2 G8 Keyboard access and navigation sc: 3.11.9, 4.1.1, 4.1.3, 4.1.4, 4.1.6, 4.1.7, 4.1.8, 4.1.9, 4.1.10, 4.1.11, 4.1.12, 4.7.5, 4.7.6, 4.7.7 G9 Preferences G: 4.5 G10 Text search G: 4.6 G11 Toolbar configuration G: 4.8 G12 Control of content that may reduce accessibility 4.9.2, 4.9.5, 4.9.6, 4.9.6, 4.9.7, 4.9.8, 4.9.9, 4.9.10, 4.9.11 G13 Unnecessary message G: 5.1 G14 Documentation of accessibility features G: 5.3  4 Accessibility evaluation of accessible media players This section presents an accessibility evaluation of three media players. The evaluation method proposed in previous section has been used for the evaluation study. The studied players are Youtube, BBC iPlayer  7  and CCPlayer  8 , all of them developed with Flash technology. They are embedded in a web page and all of them allow the user to access the content without another application opening. The evaluation process has been carried out by a human evaluator who has high level of accessibility multimedia experience; the use context was with Windows 7 operating system, Mozilla Firefox Browser version 3.6.13 and the screen reader  NVDA 9 .    Group G1 (first column of Table 2 ): The players’  behaviour in the first group of guidelines is similar. The three video players only satisfy success criteria 3.1.1 with conformance level “A” (identify presence of alternative content). Figure 1 shows screenshots of three players where the “CC” button (in red) identifies the  presence of captions. The rest of success criteria of this group are not satisfied. Figure 1: BBC iPlayer ’s  screenshot with alternative (caption) and mechanist to identify it    Group G2: The second group is completely satisfied by the players, providing highlighting items for selection, content focus, enabled elements and visited links.    Group G3: In the third group YouTube player is the only one that satisfies the success criteria 3.6.1 with conformance level “A” , allowing the configuration of the captions through a text setting menu (see Figure 2). However, it does not allow the user to change the colour of the text, so the configuration is not completely accessible. The rest of success criteria of this group are not satisfied. 7 BBC iPlayer’s web site: ,testing October 2010 8 CCPlayer’s web site: , ccPlayer version 2.0.2, testing October 2010 9 NVDA, , retrieved October 2010
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